Shingles is an acute, painful condition where erythematous vesicles erupt in one or more parts of the body. Infection is often followed by persistent debilitating pain known as postherpetic neuralgia (PHN), which is the most common complication. Frail older people are particularly vulnerable. Drs Peter Passmore and Enda Kerr review the epidemiology, complications, management and prevention options of the condition.